18 000 visa applications in limbo in Quebec

Published 2 weeks ago

What will happen to the 18 000 visa applications threatening to be cancelled by the Quebec government? Earlier this month, the government announced it would scrap 18 000 visa applications in order to clear the backlog. But following the approval of an injunction request by an association of immigration lawyers, the ministry of Immigration of Quebec will continue processing applications.

Foreign workers who have sent in an application for residence permit can be relieved… at least for now. The Association of Immigration Lawyers have succeeded in obtaining an injunction to overturn the decision of the Quebec government to cancel around 18 000 visa applications. For a month now, candidates for a working visa in Quebec have been caught in a limbo. Indeed, according to an official source within the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in Canada, on the 7th of February, Immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has tabled a bill that will allow the Quebec authorities to overthrow 18 000 visa applications of individuals already in Quebec and to, subsequently, be more selective with candidates who are granted visas. This has come as a shock to the expat workers who had sent in their applications, as far back as in 2005 for some, and had already built a life in Quebec.

Why has the government decided to suspend these visas?

On February 7th of 2019, the Immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has tabled a bill aiming to be more selective of foreign workers obtaining residence permits in Quebec. This bill aims at making the conditions to obtain a residence permit more stringent by introducing a French-language test as well as a Quebec values test for newcomers. However, the bill also provides for the termination of the application filed with the ministry before august 2018 and that are still waiting for a denouement. The decision, explained the Immigration minister, is to scrap the backlog of visa applications. The bill provides that the application fee would be refunded to the candidates.

Even if the bill has not passed yet, the minister has called on the relevant authorities to stop processing applications made before the 2 August 2018.

What has been the reaction to the news?

Foreign workers who have filed an application have, since, been left unsure of their future in Quebec, as reports several media outlets across the region. Foreign workers who have applied for leave of stay in Quebec include skills from across the board from PhD students to caregivers.

Opposition party, Quebec Solidaire, an opposition party has also organised a rally in order to raise awareness and show support to expat workers.

Most importantly, the Association of Immigration Lawyers has also filed a request for injunction with the Superior Court so that the ministry of Immigration will be forced to continue processing the applications at least until the new bill passes.

What happens now that the request for injunction has been granted?

The applications will continue to be processed for at least another 10 days. The stand of the judge of the Superior Court was that the Immigration minister cannot ask for an embargo on the processing of the applications before the bill has passed.

Contacted, the québécois authorities have not responded yet. However, canadian authorities have explained they would not be able to comment on the matter. "Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, which governs the immigration relationship between the two governments, Quebec has authority over the selection of its economic permanent residents. The federal government is responsible for determining admissibility and issuing permanent residence visas for economic immigrants destined to Quebec, but only once Quebec has issued the Certificat de selection du Québec."